The Father’s Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). 

A short time ago, the message at our church impacted me so much that even though I may not do it justice in these few words, I would be remiss for not sharing and will prayerfully try.

Although God’s word never goes out and returns void, I chose a verse that even non-believers can quote. John 3:16 is so commonly used, the depths of its meaning has been lost.

How many of us as loving parents would choose to suffer pain, emotional hurt, or even death rather than see our child experience it? The anguish suffered by that parent is often more excruciating than the physical pain.

Our loving Father gave us His most precious, precious gift. His only be-loved Son was sent from a heavenly paradise to live on earth for the sole purpose of assuming our sins on His perfect humanity in order to pay the penalty for what we did. As a parent, the depths of His pain would have to be immeasurably greater than if the Father could do it Himself.

And then, because God cannot be in the presence of sin, the already grieving Father had to turn away from the Son. Many parents cannot even leave a child’s hospital bed to eat or sleep, but the Father, who is the very definition of love, had to for a time abandon the Son. He could not complete His purpose if “the cup passed” from Him.

Can there be any greater love than to give His Son–His dearly loved child?

The depths of this love story can only be matched by the joyous ending. Sin and eternal death are defeated. We are redeemed by the most costly price imaginable—the Father’s love.

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Distorting the Truth

Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).

 One of the enemy’s most effective weapons today is the perversion of the truth–making evil seem attractive, or good, or even ambiguous. This is not a new strategy. It all started a few years back in the Garden of Eden, and it is flourishing in our world today. You can fill in the examples, but let’s refocus and look directly at God’s word.

People often point out “contradictions” in the Bible. I have personally questioned concepts many times and have found over and over and over again, that I was pulling a phrase totally out of context. Has anyone ever repeated something you may have said and without “the rest of the story” the meaning not only changed, but was even the opposite? The enemy delights in twisting God’s word and having us blindly believe it.

Much of the Old Testament concerns the Jewish law, over 613 rules, impossible for the even the most devout Jewish high priest to follow. Many of these Jewish rules are good guidelines for our health, for cleanliness, or like the Beatitudes, for our own righteous behavior. Some, like animal sacrifice for atonement, are fortunately unnecessary because of Jesus’s sacrifice that totally paid the price for our redemption. Because of grace we are free from those laws.

Contradictions? No, just a different context.

God wants us not only to comprehend the truths of His word, but to apply them in our lives. It is the formula for joy, peace and confidence for every believer.

Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.

Go and Sin No More

Go and sin no more (John 8:11).

At present I attend two ladies’ Bible studies, both different in a number of ways, but in both the word “judge” came up. In one, the focus was on a person; in the other, as an action. In a well-known scriptural passage, the adulterous woman was brought before Jesus and He was asked, “What do you say?”

The goal of these religious leaders was to trap Him, but His response neither dismissed her sin, nor condemned her. He turned to the accusers and said, “Let the one who never sinned throw the first stone.”

Whenever we point the finger of judgment (accusation) at someone, three fingers are pointing back to us. The ONLY sinless person, the ONLY one who has the right to judge said, “I do not condemn you.” The woman hadn’t even asked for forgiveness!

God’s character is one of both love and justice. Aren’t you glad!? He doesn’t dismiss our unrighteousness (justice); but He doesn’t use it to condemn us (love). Rather His motive is to draw us into an even closer relationship with Him.

So where do I fit into this scenario? Here is my role as a judge—DON’T. And as an unrighteous woman—Go (without condemnation) and sin no more.

Nothing Can Separate Us

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).

Do you remember the cartoon where the main character had an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each whispering in his ears? Well, that’s not far from the truth. Of course it is easy to distinguish the voice of God versus the enemy when the whispers are love and kindness as opposed to nastiness and revenge.

It’s quite different when one is whispering that we can never be forgiven for our horrible actions, words, or attitudes even if they happened decades ago. Guilt allows us to agree with the enemy rather than hear the love and forgiveness being whispered in the other ear.

Although God may correct us, He will never condemn us. (So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus). Think of a loving parent correcting a child’s behavior. It is done in love for the child’s benefit, not to castigate him.

So it is with our Heavenly Father. Once we are His, nothing can separate us from His love.

 

All

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

The word “all” is all inclusive – we all fall short of God’s flawless standard. Even the most righteous person, the most moral person, the most kind person.

It has less to do with a sinful act and more to do with our human nature. We are born egocentric. We are all bent toward selfishness and pride. In fact, every sinful act is a transgression against the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

That “other god” often times is me! How many times daily, do I think of my own comfort and desires. It seems hopeless unless we tap into a power greater than our human nature, a supernatural power. Only through the Holy Spirit who comes to us the moment we submit our life to Jesus Christ, can we overcome the dark areas of our human spirit. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we overcome the selfishness of our thoughts, emotions, and will.

Romans 3:22 tells us that we are made righteous with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are…

All

Faith vs Religion

Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32).

Whenever I am referred to as being religious, in my heart I feel insulted. I am not offended by the person who said it because most likely he/she meant it as a compliment, but I would prefer being thought of as a believer whose faith is in the Lord, Jesus Christ. To me, religion is man-made and filled with man-made restrictions.

Jesus Himself had nothing good to say about the religious. He called them vipers and described them as white-washed tombs.

Religion equals constraints, limitations, and the guilt that comes with never doing or being enough. Religion adds hundreds of thou-shalt-nots to the freedom and assurance that we can experience in living in the grace that is freely given though faith in Christ Jesus.

And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.